The last pupil of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Gottfried Müthel is said to have been present at the composer’s deathbed, and to have performed his duties as Cantor for the weeks following his passing. He is also credited for notating a number of Bach’s final works. Given this most illustrious of mentors – and notable friends, such as C.P.E. Bach – it is surprising that Müthel’s music has not been more widely appreciated since his own death in 1788. However, Matteo Venturini’s new recording of his complete organ music is set to change that. Praised by the English music historian Charles Burney as “full of novelty, taste and grace”, Müthel’s compositions for the organ are wide-ranging: from imposing fantasias to more delicately paced chorale preludes, as well as a set of variations on the chorale “Jesu, meine Freude”. His music is highly original, particularly in the inner movements which are characterised by rhythmically striking motifs and phrases, together with abrupt changes of dynamics.
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